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participants arranging flowers

In a display of creativity and kindness, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa hosted its annual Valentine’s Day flower arrangement workshop, spreading love among participants and those striving for mental wellness. The event, organized by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Home Garden Network (HGN), saw more than 50 participants come together on February 10.

The event, a joint effort with Mental Health Kokua, aimed to share the love of Valentine’s Day with those undergoing mental health challenges. Participants crafted two flower jars during the workshop—one to take home and another to donate to Mental Health Kokua’s clients.

woman holding flowers

“I believe this event was able to give people time to appreciate something they created for themselves and to know what they made for those at Mental Health Kokua will be appreciated because of the time they spent making it,” said Victoria Butts, an HGN intern.

The array of botanicals included roses, chrysanthemums, daisies, pompons, dianthus, aster and wild orchid. Some complementary plants such as fern, ti leaves, and areca palm were harvested from the UH Mānoa’s Free Garden by the Art Building and the Family Education Training Center of Hawaiʻi’s (FETCH) garden in Mānoa Valley. This year’s sustainable approach encouraged participants to bring their own mason jars for the arrangements.

The art of growing

“The event was created with a desire to celebrate the beauty of plant cultivation, using flowers as a medium to inspire participants to appreciate the art of growing,” said Sothy Eng, associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) and HGN founder. “This concept aligns perfectly with the mission of the Home Garden Network program, aimed at empowering families to grow their own gardens and promote community networks for mutual support and produce sharing.”

The collaborative initiative, now in its third year, is organized in partnership with FETCH, a community program promoting parenting education and hands-on garden activities in Mānoa Valley.

“I loved seeing all of the different and beautiful flower arrangements that were created,” said Mycah Fortaleza, an HDFS student. “It was also nice to see everyone, especially families having fun and spending quality time together.”

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